Monday, March 05, 2007

Jennifer Hudson's Real Faux Pas

So many interesting things happened at the Oscar's this year that I'm almost sad I missed the show. I would have liked to see Ellen host and Will Ferrell sing, but most of all I would have liked to have seen Jennifer Hudson's infamous "fashion faux pas." I put this in quotes because I didn't really understand what all the fuss was about. When I first saw the dress, I thought it suited her. Sure, she was a little understated in brown, but I thought it flattered her curvy figure and made her waist look especially trim. Plus it had pockets! I love dresses with pockets.

Then there was the issue of the gold python bolero...Well, I suppose from some angles the back of the collar was a little misshapen, perhaps a little crushed. But the touch of gold was appropriate, and it complemented the dress nicely. Moreover, it covered her arms, which judging from other photos (i.e. the photos of her accepting the award) were a little less than shapely. In close-up photos the collar framed her lovely face, and in general I think it photographed really well, which might explain why Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley chose this ensemble.

As the story goes, Talley had been Hudson's biggest supporter and took her under his wing to guide her through the confusing whirlwind of young stardom. He dressed her for events, introduced her to his famous friends and even had her featured on the cover of the March Vogue. Apparently, he also chose the brown Oscar de la Renta and bolero combo for the big night, but Hudson changed her mind, and wanted to go with a gold Roberto Cavalli number instead. Talley was offended, pushed his opinion and Hudson ended up in his dress at the last minute. Now, I know that if Jennifer Hudson wasn't comfortable wearing the dress, then she should have stood up for herself because there is nothing worse that feeling ugly on an important night. But at the same time, if she didn't have the backbone to stand up to her new friend and mentor, then she should have just gone out there and worn the dress with the highest-level of confidence in the world - once you're committed, that's it.

But Hudson didn't see it that way. She heard rumors of the press putting her down on the red carpet, and she was embarrassed. So when she accepted her award, she left the gold bolero behind. Big mistake. That bolero really pulled the outfit together. Without it, she just looked like a big brown column. Then she changed into the Cavalli before going back to talk to the press, which was a mistake of a different kind. In that simple, non-verbal gesture, she basically told everyone that she lacked so much self-confidence that she had to bow to the power of press to feel good about herself even though she had just won film's highest honor. At that glorious moment, she should have been able to wear a paper bag and feel beautiful. But she didn't, and that's where her cracks started to show.

The next morning on the Today show, she admitted to Matt Lauer that if she could have changed something about that night, she would have worn a different dress. Of course this brings me to the real faux pas of the whole situation: how could Jennifer Hudson turn her back on the person who had been her fashion mentor throughout the beginning her budding career? What a stab at Andre Leon Talley. He had put so much of his time and energy into helping her, not to mention his emotional investment, and this type of comment was very inconsiderate. She obviously had wanted to disassociate herself from "worst-dressed" criticism, but she showed another side that was far uglier than that gold bolero. She showed herself to be selfish, defensive and weak-minded.

In fashion, it's all about state of mind. If you think you can pull it off, then you can. Kate Moss doesn't look great in everything because of her stick-thin body, although that helps. She is a fashion icon because she is fearless. We can sense that attitude, so we're drawn to her. I suppose I'm being a little hard on Jennifer Hudson. It was an amature mistake, and she's obviously not confident enough in herself yet to follow her own instincts. Hopefully that will come with experience. But in the meantime, I certainly hope she finds a way to rebuild her bridges and learn from her mistakes, so she doesn't alienate even more of the fashion elite in her climb to the top. Because in my mind, she still has a long way to go.